Overwhelmed Mom: I'm with you
- By: Maricruz Ferrari LCSW
Becoming a mother comes to many by choice and others by accident. Nevertheless, most women embrace it with open arms and try to be their best selves for their children. Many women wait for their children with beautiful dreams that often get squashed by the reality of motherhood. Once our children are born, we quickly realize the emotional, spiritual, psychological and physical commitment it takes to raise children. We soon learn it is a tough job, maybe the toughest job we’ve ever had. However, there is no thought or desire to abandon the journey. On the contrary, we open our hearts to our children and embark on a lifelong journey that will play with our emotions throughout time.
Why do we feel so overwhelmed at times? The truth is that when it comes to motherhood, we’ve been sold a bill of lies. We go into it full of hopes and dreams, expecting life will help us fulfill many of our goals through our children. Nobody tells us about the struggles that will begin the moment they are out of the womb. Everyone talks about the blissful, unconditional love our heart will experience when we become mothers. Yet, everyone fails to tell us we will always live with a metaphorical wound in our heart, which, from time to time, will bleed and cause excruciating pain. Our children’s behaviors and decisions will be the salt that will make that wound sting. Once in a while, it will hurt so intensely that we’ll feel we might die from pain related to our child’s well-being.
As mothers, we leave behind who we used to be and devote ourselves to our children with the hope of giving them the life experiences we didn’t have. We lose track of who we are as individuals and are continually grading ourselves based on our children’s perceived success in life. We reminisce about simpler times when we felt we had more control over our lives. At times, with total guilt in our hearts, we crave returning to the past, when we were responsible for nobody, only ourselves. However, when we try reincorporating elements of our previous life, we realize the person we miss in us no longer exists. We can no longer fit in the mold of who we used to be and life without our children is inconceivable.
Who would’ve known this journey would be so emotionally draining? All those who did it before us, but left this little detail out while recounting their parenting experiences. Maybe I will do things differently. Perhaps we all will. Perhaps we will be more honest with those coming after us. Perhaps we, with no shame or embarrassment, will offer unsolicited advice and tell others that in the timeline of motherhood, they will have periods of joy and happiness often followed by gut-wrenching experiences. Maybe, we will consider sharing that being a mom will uplift your spirit and upgrade your human experience through true tribulations related to your child’s good, great, bad and awful behavior.
How do I cope with continuous emotional change? How do I help you cope too? As a mom, acceptance has been the key to reduce the level of pain my metaphorical heart wound experiences. What do I mean by acceptance? I mean accepting all that is good and not so good about motherhood. I accept that my children came to this world through me and not for me. I accept that we are separate beings and therefore, our life experiences, goals and opinions will be different. I accept that living in the moment with my children is the best I can do since the past is gone and the future is uncertain. I accept that loving myself is one of the best ways to parent my children. I accept that even though it seems I’m here to teach them, we are truly teaching each other and going through this journey together. I accept that my love for my children transcends all cultural and societal expectations and therefore, I stand by their side rather than in front of them on any journey they choose to embark.
We already know motherhood is not an easy journey. Transforming the experience to one that is liberating and blissful starts with us, mothers. Acceptance is the first ingredient to understanding life as a continuum that transcends our thoughts, emotions, and expectations. As you embrace and practice this concept, life will be experienced differently. I encourage you to wake up every morning with a sense of gratitude and acceptance for what it is and not a sense of desperation for what is not. Give it a try and see how life gracefully shifts before your eyes.
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Maricruz Ferrari is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked in healthcare for multiple years. Throughout her career, she has provided supportive services to people struggling with numerous psychosocial stressors, including parenting issues. Although nowadays there is more information available on effective parenting techniques, many parents are still hesitant to share their honest feelings, especially the negative ones. Maricruz’s purpose is to help parents in need to enhance their relationship with their children by showing them practical ways to cope with their parenting struggles.